They’re all gone now. Victims of the passage of time. The final handful received media attention and honors as society marked their passing, the end of an era.
Due to time and circumstance I knew several of them. They were carpenters, farmers, and businessmen in our community. I attended school with their grandchildren. My father worked with them on American Legion events. We socialized with several.
These were the veterans of the Great War. They returned home with lungs damaged from poison gas or memories of war horrors they kept locked tight inside. Some never returned at all.
Poppies! Who can forget the poetry contrasting the bright poppies to the mud of the battlefield? And who has not purchased and worn a red paper poppy on Memorial Day?
Their sons and daughters are vanishing now. Their Great War has been followed by others, designated by Roman numerals or names of countries half a world away. We dress up the names with “police action” or “conflict” as if afraid to utter the truth.
Remember them during your Memorial Day picnics. Include them in your quiet moments of thanks to all the veterans in all the wars. Give thanks for their service and sacrifice.
And if you have occasion to visit the center of the United States, take a few hours to visit and learn in Kansas City.